Birdorable Nashville Warbler

We recently added a few new wood-warblers to Birdorable, including the Nashville Warbler. Nashville Warblers are one of the more widespread North American warblers, migrating through much of the United States from their breeding grounds in southern Canada to their wintering grounds in Central America. Although named for the city where they were first noted for science, Nashville Warblers do not breed in Nashville - they only pass through during migration. Nashville Warblers are relatively easy to identify; although their grey-olive top and yellow bottom plumage is similar to the Tennessee and Orange-crowned Warblers, Nashvilles have prominent white eyerings which the others lack. Adult males also have an orange patch at the top of the head which is not always visible in the field, even though it's clear to see on our Birdorable. Have you ever seen a Nashville Warbler?

nashville-warbler-1
nashville-warbler-1 by bmajoros
Birdorable Kirtland's Warbler

We spent some time at the famous birding site Magee Marsh this past May. Magee Marsh is located on the southwestern shore of Lake Erie in Ohio. During migration, birds use Magee Marsh as a filling station or pitstop before crossing Lake Erie and continuing their journey. This "migrant trap" has been attracting birders for years. On Friday, May 14th, we and several hundred other birders became aware of a very rare sighting on the beach close to Magee Marsh. A Kirtland's Warbler! Our experience of seeing what was probably the most photographed Kirtland's Warbler in history (check out the camera clicks and flashes in the video below!) inspired us to make a Birdorable version of this special endangered bird.

What makes a sighting of the Kirtland's Warbler so special? According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources: The endangered Kirtland's warbler is one of the rarest members of the wood warbler (Parulidae) family. It is a bird of unusual interest for many reasons. It nests in just a few counties in Michigan's northern Lower and Upper peninsulas, in Wisconsin and the province of Ontario and, currently, nowhere else on Earth. Its nests generally are concealed in mixed vegetation of grasses and shrubs below the living branches of five to 20 year old jack pine (Pinus banksiana) forests. Kirtland's Warblers have been seen during migration at Magee Marsh before, but not every year. And the sighting is not usually shared with so many. It was wonderful to be among so many joyful birders on the Magee Marsh beach, watching that beautiful, special bird. The Kirtland's Warbler made its Birdorable debut on May 23rd.

A warbler named for Wilson

Birdorable Wilsons's Warbler

We recently added a few new wood-warblers to Birdorable, including the Wilson's Warbler. Wilson's Warblers are named for the noted ornithologist Alexander Wilson. Wilson's Warblers are cute little yellow and olive birds. Males are unmistakable with their black caps. Here are some photos of this beautiful little bird, shared via Flickr.

Wilson's Warbler
Wilson's Warbler by Doug Greenberg
wilson's warbler (wilsonia pusilla)
wilson's warbler (wilsonia pusilla) by revs&audy
Wilson's Warbler
Wilson's Warbler by Jerry Ting
Birdorable White-crowned Sparrow

The White-crowned Sparrow is a beautiful sparrow that can be found across most of North America, where it breeds roughly in Alaska and northern Canada and spends the winter in most parts of the USA. The birds that breed in Alaska will migrate about 2,600 miles to winter in southern California. They are easily recognized by their bold black-and-white stripes on the head and pale grey chest. They'll come to backyard feeders to eat sunflower and other seeds, although they often prefer to stay on the ground eating seeds dropped by other birds.

White-crowned Sparrow
Photo by Ananda Debnath (source: Flickr)
Birdorable Common Yellowthroat

The Common Yellowthroat is one of our favorite warblers. They have been arriving here in northern Illinois these last few weeks and we see and hear them every time we go on a walk. This morning we saw several of them at the Magic Hedge in Chicago. These beautiful birds breed in large parts of the United States and southern Canada and they spend the winter in Mexico and Central America. Males stand out with their large black mask and you can often hear their musical "Witchety, witchety, witchety" song.

Common Yellowthroat Characteristics

Check out our cute Birdorable Common Yellowthroat apparel & gifts.

Common Yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas)
Photo by Frank Shufelt (source: Flickr)

The beautiful Princess Parrot is one of the latest new birds we have added to Birdorable. Princess Parrots are colorful birds with green bodies, pink throats, blue crowns, green shoulders, reddish bills, and blue rumps. They are native to Australia.

Birdorable Princess Parrot

The Princess Parrot has several alternative names, including Queen Alexandra Parrot, Queen Alexandra Parakeet, Alexandra's Parakeet, and Princess of Wales Parakeet. These all refer to the Princess Alexandra of Denmark, for whom the species was named. [In case you don't know your royalty: Alexandra was mother to King George V, who was father to King George VI, who was father to the current Queen Elizabeth II.] If you love these beautiful parrots, be sure to check out our Princess Parrot gifts in the shop!

Hooded Merganser

Birdorable Hooded Merganser

We recently added the Hooded Merganser to Birdorable. These little ducks are named for their large head crests. In breeding males, the crest has a large white patch. Females are quite drab overall (a recurring theme with many birds, especially ducks), but they do have the 'hood' for which the species is named. Hooded Mergansers have elongated, serrated bills which are useful when hunting and feeding on slippery fish. They will also eat frogs, crayfish, and other small aquatic animals. With legs set back on the body, Hooded Mergansers are agile underwater swimmers but awkward on land. To defend her helpless young, a female Hooded Merganser might try to distract predators by pretending to have a broken wing and leading the predator away from her ducklings.

Hooded Merganser

Hooded Mergansers are one of our favorite species of duck. Depending on the time of year, Hooded Mergansers can be found across much of North America; they do not range in the American southwest or the farthest northern reaches of Canada. Do you have Hooded Mergansers where you live? Have you seen one lately? Have you seen our cute Birdorable Hooded Merganser gifts? :) * HOME is the four-letter code bird banders (and birders) use when referring to Hooded Mergansers.

Harlequin Macaw

We recently added the Harlequin Macaw to Birdorable. The Harlequin Macaw is a relatively common hybrid macaw, a cross between a Green-winged (Red-and-green) Macaw and a Blue-and-yellow Macaw. Like other hybrid macaws, male Harlequins tend to take the coloring of the mother bird, while female Harlequins take the coloring of the father. The word Harlequin has several meanings; one refers to a comic servant character in Italian literature (similar to the court jester). Owners of these gregarious birds might find this meaning fits their avian friend. Harlequin is also a color, described as being between green and yellow. This fits well with the beautiful hybrid coloring of the Harlequin Macaw.

harlequin macaw
Harlequin Macaw by Dave Womach (source: Flickr)

Check out our Harlequin Macaw t-shirts and gifts. Besides the usual array of apparel, don't forget that Birdorable also offers goodies like magnets, keychains and postage!

Bluer than a Bluebird

Birdorable Indigo Bunting

We recently added the Indigo Bunting to Birdorable. These birds are named for the striking bright blue plumage found in breeding males.

Indigo bunting
Indigo bunting by Henry McLin, on Flickr

Like many passerine birds, for safety the Indigo Bunting often migrates overnight. They use the stars as a directional tool in their travels. In captivity, since they cannot migrate, Indigo Buntings may experience disorientation in April and May and in September and October if they cannot see the stars from their cages.

Indigo Bunting
Indigo Bunting by drivebybiscuits1, on Flickr

We can expect Indigo Buntings to return here to northern Illinois very soon. They will visit back yard feeders and the males especially are hard to miss.

American Goldfinch and Indigo Bunting
American Goldfinch and Indigo Bunting by jackanapes, on Flickr

You can also listen for their song, which some birders describe as sounding like "fire! fire! where? where? here! here! see it? see it?"

Calling For Love
Calling For Love by Chad Horwedel, on Flickr

Indigo Buntings summer across much of the eastern part of the United States. Do you have Indigo Buntings where you live? Have they already returned? While you wait, be sure to check out our cute Birdorable Indigo Bunting t-shirts & gifts! :)

Our 'old' coots

Birdorable Eurasian CootWhen we lived in Leiden, there were Eurasian Coots, also called Common Coots, living all over the Singel (the canal or moat surrounding the city). This was one species of bird we saw nearly every day. Here's an arial view of Leiden, from Google Maps. You can see the zig-zag shape of the Singel going around the city. The old city walls used to follow the water around the city. (Our house was in the upper right corner of the map, just outside of the Singel)

Anyway, if you walked along the Singel virtually any time of year, you could find coots in the water or in the parks just off shore. They stayed all year round, but in the spring you really noticed them because they were always fighting, aggressively defending their territory. And they were busy busy busy constructing nests, usually surrounded by water, attached to some piece of garbage in the water (most likely a sunken bicycle or shopping cart), or along the water's edge. It was fun to watch them build their nests, which would be made up of primarily vegetation, but also pieces of paper, plastic bags and other found garbage.

It was also so much fun to watch them with their babies. Coot babies (I call them cooties) are precocial, which means they are relatively mature from the moment they hatch. We would see very tiny coots swimming behind adults in the water, bouncing in the gentle wake of their parents. The very young ones would try to dive down for food like their parents, but they were too small and much too buoyant to stay under for any amount of time. They would just pop up immediately.

Once the breeding season was over, and the babies were taking care of themselves, the coots were more convivial. Large groups of adult and juvenile coots would feed together and no arguments would break out as they swam around the Singel. We would also see coots when we went birding out of Leiden. They don't call them Common Coots for nothing; they are fairly widespread all across Europe.

Eurasian Coot

Common Coots are one of our favorite birds and I'm glad we finally have a Birdorable version of this species! Be sure to check out our shop for the new Birdorable Eurasian Coot gear.